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Kenya: Alternative Report to the CAT 'Addressing the Economic, Social and cultural Root Causes of Torture in Kenya'

The purposeof this report is to help eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman and degradingtreatment and punishment in Kenya by making recommendations to address theireconomic, social and cultural root causes. It is based on documentation provided by national NGOs and on the informationgathered during a preparatory mission that OMCT undertook in Kenya during themonth of April 2008. The missionalso included a number of fora, which gave local communities and victims ofviolence the opportunity to express their views on and experience of theseissues for transmission to the Committee against Torture. These fora arereferred to in text boxes in this report.

Thereport describes the extensive violence deriving from deep poverty andinequality that is taking place in Kenya. In this respect, the particular caseof Westlands is examined.
It provides information onhow the poor, particularly those living in informal settlements, are regularlyharassed, forced to pay bribes and arbitrarily arrested by the police. Thereport demonstrates that Kenyan prisons are predominantly populated by thepoor, owing to the unaffordability and inaccessibility for them of justice, andanalyses the impact of lack of financial means in terms of overcrowding andunhealthy and inhuman living conditions in Kenyan prisons. The reportdiscusses land conflicts that generate violence and the Government’s inadequateresponse to address inequitable land distribution. In this respect, the reportdraws attention to the recent allegations of torture in Mount Elgon District. T
he strong linkagesbetween denials of access to land and violence exacerbate ethnic divisions byincreasing tensions, insecurity, dissatisfaction, poverty and powerlessness.Furthermore, the persistence of certain culturalnorms, stereotypes and traditions perpetuates discrimination and violenceagainst women and girls in Kenya, and lack of economic and social empowermentprevents women from enjoying their civil and political rights, including accessto justice in the case of violence. Poverty is the main cause of the highlevels of trafficking in women and girls and sexual exploitation in thecountry.

The report concludesthat the
State isdirectly responsible for torture and ill-treatment committed against thepoorest, for the economic, social and cultural policies that lead to suchtreatment and for violence against the poor by non-State actors in Kenya.
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